Thursday, August 11

NASA — “It’s Summer Camp for Aviation Geeks”: NASA…

As a child fascinated with aviation, Michael Jorgensen, Public Affairs Specialist for the Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project, attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (“Oshkosh” for short) multiple times. Now, he represents us there, sharing what we’ve been working on. Read on to see what going to Oshkosh is like as Michael takes us on a tour—and join us next time!


Every year, Wittman Regional Airport in the town of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, swells from 67,000 to 600,000 people, becoming a hotspot for aviation in the United States. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) began AirVenture in 1953 and is a ‘Must Do’ for any aviation geek.

My story with EAA AirVenture began in the late 1990s. As a fan of everything aviation, and having grown up near Chicago, Oshkosh was always on my radar – and I attended several times while I was growing up.

Young Michael posing in front of a NASA aircraft at EAA Airventure 1998 in Oshkosh, WI. A young boy stands with his hands in his pockets in front of a white and blue emblazoned jet on a dark grey tarmac.ALT
Adult Michael posing in front of a NASA aircraft at EAA Airventure 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. An adult man wearing a NASA t-shirt stands in front of a white and blue emblazoned propeller plane on a green patch of grass.ALT

Michael recreates a childhood image from EAA AirVenture 1998 at EAA AirVenture 2022. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

Coming back to the airport grounds this week, all my childhood memories came flooding back: the noises, the planes, the smells, and the pure excitement. As a kid, I could only dream of working for NASA, never imagining it would come true almost 25 years later.

A large hexagonal airport traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport. The structure of the tower is tan and the background of the image is clear blue skies with two aircraft flying overhead.ALT

The airport traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

When driving in, you first see a lot of air traffic – ranging from hang gliders, to old warbirds, to stunt planes, to the newest military jets rumbling skyward. During the last full week in July, the airport control tower becomes the busiest one in the world, coordinating approximately 116 takeoffs/landings per hour throughout each day – almost 2 every minute! Last year saw more than 10,000 aircraft arrive at the airport. The excitement grows as you pull off the highway and are greeted by rows and rows of general aviation aircraft as far as the eye can see.

Hundreds of brightly colored aircraft are arranged in rows on a large grass field. Under the wings of each aircraft are small tents ranging in colors from yellow and green to grey.ALT

The airport field at Wittman Regional Airport, featuring general aviation aircraft and camping tents, at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

The constant propeller buzz in the background and crackling of fighter jets overhead is noticeable as you walk through the airport grounds. What makes this sight even more unique is camping tents under the wings of each aircraft, stretching along the entire grounds of the airport. AirVenture truly is a summer camp for #AvGeeks.

A large crowd of plane enthusiasts is pictured in the foreground walking around and into a large grey military style transport aircraft on display. The nose of the aircraft is opened vertically allowing for the crowd to walk into its interior.ALT

Boeing Plaza, the central display area at AirVenture, featuring a C-5 Galaxy transport with its nose open, and a C-17 Globemaster III, at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

The main tarmac at the airport is converted into Boeing Plaza, the central display area featuring the biggest and most exciting aircraft: C-17 Globetrotter III, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, DC-3, and many, many more. One year, I even got to see the Concorde fly into and out of this teeny regional airport in the middle of Wisconsin.

There are countless opportunities to interact with the pilots and other aviation enthusiasts including sitting in cockpits, checking out the interiors and exteriors of various airplanes, and chances to fly in vintage aircraft including an original 1929 Ford Trimotor and a B-17 Flying Fortress from 1945. And, of course, no matter my age, I posed with anything and everything I found interesting, including a T-38 Talon stationed in front of the NASA pavilion and the inside of an ecoDemonstrator.

A man wearing a NASA t-shirt sits in a plane cockpit. The cockpit is a metallic grey and covered in hundreds of knobs, throttles, and buttons with two large windows looking forward towards the nose of the plane.ALT

Michael sitting in the cockpit of Boeing’s 777-200ER ecoDemonstrator at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

Inside the various hangars are hundreds of aviation vendors, exhibitors, and storefronts, ranging from avionics manufacturers to social clubs/societies, wooden model companies, and all the pilot accessories imaginable.

A man in a NASA polo shirt and lanyard takes a selfie in front of a white and blue emblazoned NASA aircraft and a large building with the red white and blue NASA logo imprinted on it.ALT

Michael standing in front of NASA’s SR22 aircraft at the NASA pavilion at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, WI. Credit: Michael Jorgensen

This year’s theme for the NASA pavilion was “Faces of Flight”. Throughout the week, we had meet-and-greets with leaders, researchers, engineers, and even an astronaut or two, hands-on educational experiences for guests of all ages, giveaways, and models of our aircraft, spacecraft, and more, including a model of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and the Space Launch System rocket.

Aside from the events in the NASA pavilion, we participated in a number of panels like Women@NASA, where women leaders from the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate talked about NASA’s aviation research portfolio, activities taking places at NASA centers, and their personal experiences as leaders.

If you’re interested in the future of aviation—supersonic flight, advanced air mobility, and so much more—come see us at Oshkosh!

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space!